The CSU football team received its first bid to a bowl game since 2008 on Sunday afternoon. The Rams (7-6) are set to square off against Washington State (6-6) for the 2013 Gildan New Mexico Bowl title. Following the announcement, CSU held a press conference with head coach Jim McElwain, linebacker Shaquil Barrett and center Weston Richburg to speak about the news.
Q: How exciting is this to get a chance to extend your career another game, and a bowl game at that?
LB Shaquil Barrett: It’s really exciting to be able to come out here and play again with the group of guys we have on this team. We’ve built some great relationships on this team and I just want to say thanks to everyone who gave us this chance to play in this game.
Check out the CSU football team’s reaction to the announcement of getting a bowl game bid here: http://youtu.be/tCRQhd9bbLU
Q: Is there a little sense of relief, given the rumors that were floating around late last night that you guys could possibly get left out?
Barrett: I didn’t hear any of those rumors, I was sleeping most likely. But I know there is a sense of relief knowing that it’s set in stone now that we’re in.
Q: How nice does it feel to have this opportunity, you guys were obviously hoping for it but that now that it’s the real deal?
C Weston Richburg: This is what you play for, to be in the postseason. As a senior class, this is kind of the mark we wanted to leave. We wanted to start CSU on the right track and getting to a bowl game is the way to do that. We’re really excited that we got selected to play in this game.
Q: You say that you want this to be the norm for CSU football, do you feel like you’ve done your part to build this program in the right direction?
Weston: As a senior class I think we have. I wish we could’ve started this earlier and done it every year. But we really took it upon ourselves to leave our mark and be an example as senior leaders for the next class of seniors.
Q: How valuable is a bowl appearance for recruiting?
Head coach Jim McElwain: It just puts you in that club. It’s one of those deals that there are certain teams that are in the club and there’s certain teams that aren’t. And guess what, we got the secret knock to get in the alley door to get in with the rest of them. I just think it speaks volumes for how far we’ve come in such a short time, yet we’re still scratching the surface.
Q: After starting off 1-3, is it hard to believe this team reached at bowl game opportunity?
McElwain: As I told you from the get-go after each one of those, I like this team. I liked where they are and their mindset. I told you they weren’t at times the most talented outfit in the world, but at the same time they still has something. You’re either going to get better or worse, you’re never going to stay the same; it’s about what you do that day.
Q: How do you feel about the progress this program has experienced over the last two years since you showed up?
McElwain: It’s never done, we aren’t even close to where we’re going to be, this is just one of those steps along the way to restoring this program to what it is. And I’m excited for the people.
Sports writer Keegan Pope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @KPopeCollegian.